Venice Travel Guide: 15 Best Things to Do

A walk through Venice is like a living painting, with an astonishing sight around every corner. The city is dotted with architectural masterpieces, including the magnificent St. Mark’s Basilica with its impressive Byzantine mosaics and the graceful Rialto Bridge, an architectural marvel that crosses the Grand Canal. In this Travel Guide you will find out what you have to see in Venice as a first-timer, or how best to spend a day in Venice.

What are the Best Things to Do in Venice?

Venice is a unique city in Italy, known for its romantic charm. Built on a network of 118 small islands separated by canals and connected by bridges, Venice is a labyrinth of narrow streets, picturesque squares, and elegant palaces.

1. Piazza San Marco

One of the best places to start your tour in the city of water is Piazza San Marco. Piazza San Marco, often referred to as St. Mark’s Square, is the beating heart of Venice, Italy. This sprawling square is surrounded by architectural treasures, including the famous St. Mark’s Basilica with its intricate Byzantine façade and towering bell tower, the Campanile. Lined with elegant cafés and historic buildings, the square exudes a timeless beauty that has captivated visitors for centuries. In addition to the hustle and bustle of tourists and pigeons, you can come back later and enjoy the peaceful ambiance of the dusk here. St. Mark’s Square offers an unforgettable insight into Venetian life.

2. Basilica di San Marco

From Piazza San Marco, your gaze falls directly on the basilica of the same name. The Basilica di San Marco in Venice is a stunning example of Byzantine architecture, decorated with complicated mosaics. These mosaics represent scenes from the life of St. Mark. Its majestic domes and ornate façade make it one of Venice’s landmarks, attracting visitors from all over the world to admire its beauty and historical significance.

3. Doge’s Palace

Adjacent to the Basilica is the Doge’s Palace. The Doge’s Palace in Venice is a symbol of the city’s rich history and political power during the Venetian Republic. This stunning Gothic masterpiece served as the residence of the Doge, the elected head of Venice. Today it is a museum showcasing lavish interiors, opulent works of art, and the intricate workings of Venetian government.

4. Bridge of Sighs

If you walk a little way around the corner, along the water, you will find the Bridge of Sighs on the left-hand side. The Bridge of Sighs in Venice is a hauntingly beautiful structure that connects the Doge’s Palace with the historic prison. Its name comes from the alleged sighs of the prisoners who took a last look at Venice through the small windows before they were incarcerated.

Bridge of Sighs Venice

5. Stroll through the small streets of Venice

Afterward, you can stroll through the alleyways of Venice and cross the city’s many romantic bridges. There are countless beautiful perspectives and photo opportunities here.

6. Scala Contarini del Bovol

The Scala Contarini del Bovolo is a hidden gem in Venice, known for its unique spiral staircase. This architectural marvel was built in the 15th century and combines Renaissance and Gothic elements. Its intricate design and breathtaking views from the top make it a must-see if you want to explore the lesser-known wonders of Venice.

Scala Contarini del Bovol in Venice

7. Libreria Acqua Alta

Once you arrive at the Libreria Acqua Alta, you will find a library that you can only find in Venice. The Libreria Acqua Alta in Venice is a magical bookshop known for its unique atmosphere and creative presentation of books. Here you will find books stored in bathtubs, gondolas, and even in a full-size boat. You can wander through the book labyrinth while enjoying the view of the adjacent canal – a unique and unforgettable literary experience. At the back of the library, you will find a cute courtyard with a staircase made of books.

Tip: There is a gondola in the water where you can take photos for free. Amazing photo spot!

8. Grand Canal

The Grand Canal in Venice is a fascinating waterway that winds its way through the heart of the city. Along its banks, you will find breathtaking architecture. This iconic canal is the main artery of Venice, where you can watch the gondolas, water cabs, and cargo ships pass by. Lined with magnificent palaces, churches, and historic buildings, the Grand Canal offers a picturesque insight into Venice’s rich history and culture.
Along the Grand Canal, you will also find a large number of restaurants and cafés where you can enjoy a lunch break in a pleasant atmosphere.

9. Ponte Di Rialto (Rialto Bridge)

The next stop on your route should be the Rialto Bridge. The Rialto Bridge in Venice, which spans the Grand Canal, is a symbol of the city’s rich history and architectural magnificence. Completed in 1591, it is one of the oldest and most famous bridges in Venice, attracting millions of visitors every year. Its elegant design with a single stone arch has inspired artists, writers, and travelers for centuries.

Tip: If you cross the bridge to the square of Sotoportego de l’Erbaria and keep to the right immediately afterward, you will have a beautiful view and an amazing photo spot of the bridge.

10. Rooftop of Fondaco Dei Tedeschi

The rooftop terrace of the luxurious shopping mall Fondaco Dei Tedeschi offers a breathtaking view of Venice’s urban skyline, including the Grand Canal and St. Mark’s Basilica.On the rooftop terrace, you can relax in style, enjoy Venetian delicacies and cocktails while soaking up the fascinating colors of the sunset. With its great views over Venice, it is at the top of the list of best things to do. The terrace is open daily from 10:15 to 18:00 and the entrance is free.

11. Jewish Quarter

The Jewish Quarter in the Cannaregio district in Venice, known as the Ghetto, is one of the oldest and most historically significant Jewish communities in Europe. Established in the 16th century, it served as a haven for Jewish residents, who were confined to this area by law. Today, the Ghetto preserves its cultural heritage through synagogues, museums, and vibrant streets, offering visitors a glimpse into centuries of Jewish life in Venice. You will find many cafés and small stores along the alleyways here.

12. Visit the most beautiful supermarket in Venice

In the Jewish quarter you will find the most beautiful supermarket in Venice, if not the most beautiful in Europe. The supermarket is located in an old theater in the middle of Venice. It’s well worth a visit!

13. Gondola ride (or cheaper alternatives)

Experience the charm of Venice on a gondola ride through the enchanting canals, past elegant palaces and historic bridges. While passing elegant places and historic bridges, immerse yourself in the romantic ambience of this stunning city. This is an unmissable and best thing to do in Venice. The price is 80 EUR for a 40-minutes gondola ride.

As the gondola rides are very expensive, we will also introduce you to cheaper alternatives to travel along the beautiful canals: One option is the Traghetto Gondola Ferry, with which you can travel across the Grand Canal for just 2 EUR. Although it is a short and shared tour, it is still worthwhile. Another option is to take the water bus or a private water cab. You can buy tickets for this at the respective station. This way you can see the city from the water for little money.

14. Try Venetian Cuisine

At the end of your wonderful day in the water city, you should try Venetian cuisine. Venetian cuisine is a delicious blend of flavors influenced by Venice’s maritime location and rich history. From fresh seafood such as sarde in saor to traditional Venetian specialties such as risotto al nero di seppia (squid risotto), the cuisine offers a unique culinary experience influenced by local ingredients and centuries-old recipes.

15. Visit Burano

Just a short boat ride from Venice, you can discover the colorful island of Burano. The island is known for its bright houses that line picturesque canals. Stroll through the charming streets with their colorfully painted facades. Don’t miss the opportunity to try the local fish specialties and admire the artistic lace – traditions that have been cultivated on this enchanting island for centuries.

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